GIRIDIH, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Since 12-year-old Laxmi Kumari was buried alive in a mica mine eight months ago, her family’s grief has turned to despair on realizing promises by global companies to end child labor in the mines in eastern India have so far led to nothing.
Just over a year ago, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found children in India were dying in the depths of crumbling, illegal mines for the prized mineral that puts the sparkle in make-up and car paint – but their deaths covered up.
The discovery that seven children had died in two months alone prompted pledges by multinationals sourcing mica from India to clean up their supply chains, and state authorities vowed to accelerate plans to legalize and regulate the sector.
But returning to the major mica producing areas in India’s Jharkhand and Bihar states in recent weeks, the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that children were continuing to die in these remote, abandoned “ghost” mines.
Interviews with local communities, government officials and charity workers, along with local newspaper reports, revealed at least nine people – including Laxmi and three other children – have died in collapses at unregulated mines this year.
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